John Connolly

Hodder pbk £7.99

Released: January 21st 2010

Reviewer: Ali Karim


Ali Karim is assistant editor at Shots and writes/reviews for The Rap Sheet, January Magazine, Deadly Pleasures, Crimespree and Mystery Readers International


This is the eighth novel in Connollyís Charlie Parker PI series [though Parker made a cameo in the standalone Bad Men and featured in a novella from his Nocturnes collection]. The Lovers is without doubt the finest novel in the series as it pulls together many of the strands that Connolly wove in the preceding novels. Each word, sentence, paragraph and page in this book seems to have been considered, polished, and refined to form a picture-perfect narrative, and one that is as chilling as it is poignant. I have raved about Connollyís work before, but this time words escape me, such is the intensity of this work.

The tale is peppered with heart-wrenching vignettes of the dark side of our existence. At times, I put the book down and felt my eyes moisten due to the compassion [and sadness] of this story; other times I put the book down due to the growing sense of unease and fear at what was unravelling as the story progresses to the irregular drumbeat of the dead and dying. Reading The Lovers felt like opening the door of a charnel house and hearing the screams of the dead. Another factor that makes this such a wonderful read is the high level of research that is evident with curious observations, historical references and insight into the darker edges of religion.  

The tale starts with Charlie Parker investigating the mysterious nature of his father William Parkerís suicide, following his shooting of two young lovers with no apparent motive. Parker, following the issues he faced in The Reapers is working as a barman while his PI licence is suspended pending a police investigation. Parker has often pondered why evil seems to shadow his every move, and why death seems to be an integral part of his life. His investigation into his fatherís suicide will place his own life into context and reveal why shadowy figures such as the Collector, the Travelling Man, et al seem to be interested in him and those around him. As the case in which William Parker gunned down two young lovers in their car is shrouded in secrecy, Parker hunts down his fatherís colleagues, retired NYPD cops Jimmy Gallaher and Eddie Grace. It seems that Parkerís parentsí marriage had a problem that would cascade into their sonís adult life. Adding to the mix is journalist Mickey Wallace who is writing a lurid true-crime book on Charlie Parkerís life, and the Jewish cleric Epstein who knows more than he will reveal until the bodies start to pile up.

The only people that Charlie Parker can rely on are Louis and Angel who watch his back as the secrets of The Lovers are revealed. I know less adventurous readers have difficulty in the supernatural elements of Connollyís narrative; however they add an edge that makes his work thought provoking and insightful. When I got to the end, all the previous Parker novels fell into context like the numbers in a lottery wheel, revealing all the questions that had nagged at me about this exceptional series of novels. In a word: stunning. 

I give it 5 stars out of 5.






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